Trailblazer integral to Meriden hospital merger remembered

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The woman who helped merge two Meriden hospitals and create MidState Medical Center is being remembered for her commitment to health care law, her family and her community.

Martha (Marty) Fordiani died earlier this month after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 85.

“Mrs. Fordiani was able to enjoy a distinguished and impactful career in healthcare that spanned decades and helped provide care for countless people,” Hartford HealthCare’s Central Region President Gary Havican said in an e-mail Wednesday. “She helped pave the way for MidState Medical Center as we know it today. She understood the needs of central Connecticut and the important role a new and innovative hospital would serve to countless communities in providing a high standard of quality care. The City of Meriden, and beyond, owes her a tremendous amount of gratitude. Our thoughts are with Mrs. Fordiani’s family during this difficult time.”

MidState Medical Center today is part of the Hartford HealthCare system.

Meriden City Councilor Bruce Fontanella recalled attending night law classes with Fordiani and serving on the hospital board together.

“She was really a woman ahead of her time, going to law school and a practicing attorney,” said Fontanella. “She was a forerunner of the liberated woman you see today. Her accomplishments go on and on.”

Fontanella recalled Fordiani was the chief executive officer of the World War II Veterans Memorial Hospital from 1987 to 1991, when he served on the Meriden-Wallingford Hospital board of directors.

During that time, Fordiani worked with the board and the community to successfully develop and negotiate a plan to merge with Meriden-Wallingford Hospital. She later served as executive vice president and general counsel of the merged entity, MidState Medical Center, and played a key role in gaining approval to build a new hospital for the region.

“She certainly was influential in getting the merger and the new entity that became MidState Medical Center,” Fontanella said. “She was a real friendly person with an outgoing personality and a well-rounded knowledge of the law. She was a credit to the community for the help she gave to the hospital effort.”

Vision, passion and energy

Fordiani’s accomplishments in state and local health care and while serving on boards of local non-profits are numerous. In her personal life, she and her husband Alfred Fordiani raised five children in their Meriden home.

She was an accomplished pianist and vocalist from her youth and throughout her life. When she worked at the Masonic Home in Wallingford, Fordiani and her children performed together in musical skits and other performances alongside the residents in their annual variety shows.

Lynn Faria, director of community relations for MidState, recalled how Fordiani brought her on board for the area’s first community needs survey at the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital. Faria worked closely with Fordiani gathering input from leaders in public health, local churches and non-profits.

“She was a woman with vision, passion and tremendous energy,” Faria said. “She was very supportive of community-based collaboration. She showed the leadership to make that happen.”

Healthy Meriden 2000 was an extensive initiative that remains a resource for local health officials today.

Outside of healthcare, Fordiani was also politically active and served as an office staff member for her Congressional representative. She was a corporator of the Meriden Girls Club; United Way of Meriden and Wallingford board of directors member and member of the organization’s Executive Committee; and Meriden Charter Implementation Commission member.

Fordiani was especially very proud of her tenure as director and president of the Meriden Symphony Orchestra and was the founder and first president of the Meriden Arts Council, according to her family.

Community minded

Her work garnered numerous state and local honors in and out of health care. Fordiani was a Meriden YWCA 100 Exceptional Women Honoree; a winner of the Meriden Economic Development Corporation Keystone Award, which honors individuals who have made substantial contributions to the economic well being of the City of Meriden; and recipient of the Meriden YWCA Women in Leadership Award.

“She was a tremendous lady and her passing is really a loss to the community,” Faria said.

In between myriad volunteer and health care administration duties, Fordiani also participated in the annual Kiwanis Kapers show.

“She was very accomplished, very driven,” said her son David Fordiani. “She had five kids by age 28. Raising five kids, she got her MBA and law degree at night. She was always working, doing something to better herself and bettering us. At Kiwanis Kapers, she would sing a song for my dad, ‘What’s it all about Alfie.’ ”

Fordiani graduated from Naugatuck High School and attended Pembroke College, now Brown University, studying music. She subsequently completed her bachelor’s degree at Boston University, received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of New Haven and a juris doctor from the University of Connecticut.

She worked as an administrator for the state Department of Labor, and after passing the state bar exam, worked as an attorney. However, her professional focus was in health care administration.

Looked to help

Fordiani’s connections often linked people to needed services, even jobs.

Donato Lupacchino recalled meeting Fordiani through Kiwanis. She helped his wife secure a medical records position at MidState Medical Center after learning she had experience while serving in the military.

“She was nice,” Lupacchino said. “Always talking helpfully, sharing ideas, suggesting we try this or reach out to that. She would interject with helpful advice, it was just the way she was. She was so talented in so many ways.”

Fordiani began her long career in health care at the Masonic Home and Hospital in 1966, where she served as a recreation therapist. In 1969, she held the position of public health program coordinator for the Meriden Health Department.

“She was in a position to give back and she gave back,” David Fordiani said. “She had a long fight with a horrible disease that robbed her of her golden years. Even in the nursing home, smiling and singing. I would see a sparkle in her eye and knew she was there.”

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Oct. 22 at 11:30 a.m., at the Pine Orchard Union Chapel, 25 Chapel Drive, Branford. Refreshments to follow at the Pine Orchard Yacht & Country Club, 294 Pine Orchard Road, Branford.

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


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